The lack of transparency surrounding the administration of President Donald Trump is truly staggering. Few people know exactly what is going on behind closed doors. Even when information is proffered, it’s untrustworthy. It’s compounded by a shameless willingness to lie even in the face of directly contradictory evidence. Indeed, the lack of opacity is so profound that few people are even certain exactly who is calling the shots.
With the President himself spending most of his time golfing, issuing reality-redundant tweets, and receiving policy advice from cable news via auditory osmosis, the actual running of government is left to his subordinates.
And whilst Vice President Mike Pence is occupied trying to cobble together a health care plan evil enough to satisfy the Sith Lord dominated House Freedom Caucus everything else seems to have been left to the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Trump’s respect for and confidence in Kushner seems to be without limit.
They do after all share the same taste in women.
Jared’s list of responsibilities is eclectic, to say the least. He’s in charge of solving the opioid epidemic and fostering peace in the Middle East, whilst simultaneously fixing the criminal justice system. Added to that list is a mandate from the president to overhaul the entire federal government, act as liaison to both Mexico and China and head up the White House Office of American Innovation.
Rumors that he has been pegged to personally replace the White House’s ancient plumbing, design the first commercially viable flying car and create a zero fat-burger that tastes ‘just like the real thing,’ are as of yet unconfirmed.
Still, with so many responsibilities, it’s odd that we know so little about him. So here are seven things that you probably didn’t know about the Secretary of Everything.
1. He Inherited A Fortune
Kushner is no self-made man.
Like Trump, his wealth comes entirely in the form of a hand me down. Kushner’s father, Charles founded his company in 1985 and soon managed to turn it into a multi-billion-dollar real estate empire. Jared himself seems to be somewhat shy about the life of privilege that was handed to him. Although he claimed to have not owned a car while studying at Harvard sources report that he, in fact, drove around in a brand new Range Rover.
2. Speaking Of Harvard…
One of the most often touted observations about Kushner is that he — unlike the family, he married into — has been somewhat blessed in the intellect department. What’s less clear is what if any evidence that this is true even exists.
In his 2006 book, The Price of Admission Daniel Golden explained how the rich manage to secure places for their idiot children in elite universities by way of rather large, and deliciously tax-deductible donations.
And according to Golden, Kushner’s father just so happened to have given $2.5 million to Harvard University prior to Jared’s admission. He went on to quote administrators who were less than happy with Jared’s admission. Indeed according to one official, there was:
“No way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard.
“His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought, for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.’’
3. His Grandparents Were Holocaust Survivors
The story of an immigrant family clawing their way to the very top of U.S. power structures is the story of America itself. Still, it’s surprising that a self-professed orthodox Jew such as Kushner would wish to work with a man like Steve Bannon. Kushner’s relations with Bannon — an avowed anti-Semite who once objected to the idea of his children being schooled with Jews — is thought to be heated but with so much apparent influence, why he has not kicked Bannon out of the inner circle yet is a mystery.
Still, as with all things Trump, the disparity between the label and the reality bears an investigation. Whilst both Ivanka and Jared claim to observe the Sabbath, any cachet they might receive from doing so is mitigated by the fact that they don’t always do so. They don’t seem to be great at keeping Kosher either.
4. His Father Is A Convicted Felon
According to the New York Times, back in 2005 Charles Kushner, a top Democratic party donor was:
“Sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to 18 counts of tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign donations.”
The lurid details of the events leading to his conviction are more than enough to raise a few eyebrows. Having become embroiled in a feud with his brother-in-law over how proceeds were to be distributed, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Again, according to the New York Times he:
“Retaliated against his brother-in-law, who was cooperating with federal authorities, by hiring a prostitute to seduce him. He then arranged to have a secretly recorded videotape of the encounter sent to his sister, the man’s wife.”
5. He’s No Business Genius
Forced to take over the family business, Jared proceeded to make the kind of blunders one would expect from a son who needed a bribe to get him into college. Back in 2007, he sank a cool $1.8 billion into a Fifth Avenue skyscraper which, according to Business Insider was:
“The highest price ever paid for a single building — expecting it to rake in $120 million in annual office rent.”
The actual profit it made in 2011?
I’m not even joking.
Indeed, according to the Wall street Journal:
“As of March, the aluminum-panel-clad skyscraper, where retailer Uniqlo is planning its flagship store, was about $3.5 million-a-month short on debt service… Only $10 million remained in a reserve fund used to service the property’s $1.22 billion mortgage, which is tied to the office portion of the building. Its revenues are only one-fourth the amount forecast in 2007.”
6. He Might Be As Corrupt As Trump
It’s nice to be the president’s personal Chinese envoy. Even nicer when you can use that leverage to make yourself a shed-load of money. Last week, Bloomberg reported that Jared’s woes over his disastrous 2007 investment might be coming to an end, courtesy of some much-needed and unexpected capital investment from China. They wrote:
“A company owned by the family of Jared Kushner… stands to receive more than $400 million from a prominent Chinese company that is considering investing in the Kushners’ marquee Manhattan office tower.”
“The planned $4-billion transaction includes terms that some real estate experts consider unusually favorable for the Kushners. It would provide them with both a sizable cash payout from Anbang Insurance Group for a property that has struggled financially and an equity stake in a new partnership.”
So, that’s lovely.
7. He Really Knows How To Hold A Grudge
Charles’ Kushner’s arrest was something of a pivotal moment for Jared. Indeed it appears he abandoned his practice of law in part because he had become disillusioned with the system.
In 2014 he told the Real Deal that:
“My dad’s arrest made me realize I didn’t want to be a prosecutor anymore. … Seeing my father’s situation, I felt what happened was obviously unjust in terms of the way they pursued him. I just never wanted to be on the other side of that and cause pain to the families I was doing that too, whether right or wrong. The moral weight of that was probably a bit more than I could carry.”
The person in charge of Charles Kushner’s criminal conviction? Why, none other than then U.S. Attorney General of New Jersey, Chris Christie.
Cut to 2016 and Christie was a top candidate for Trump running mate. Kushner pushed for Pence instead. Months later, Christie was removed from Trump’s transition team. Soon after the merest whiff of Christie — who allegedly smells like cat’s musk — was given the spray down.
According to NBC Christie loyalist, Congressman Mike Rogers resigned after what he described as a:
Watch rare footage of Kushner speaking back in 2014.
Featured image from YouTube video.